David's Blog

On this page, I'll share my thoughts, and any articles or information I think are of interest.  Feel free to use the comments section to join in the discussion!


“what happens at the intersection of money and creativity”

 

With money and cutting-edge brilliance, Dodgers playing a game others can’t

 

By Jeff Passan20 hours agoYahoo Sports

All those years when the New York Yankees were outspending everyone by $20 million and $30 million and more, this is what they should’ve done. The Los Angeles Dodgers are a monetary behemoth, beneficiaries of an $8 billion TV contract, and under president Andrew Friedman and GM Farhan Zaidi, they’re parlaying that financial advantage into a competitive one, too.

The Yankees sashayed into free-agent meetings like fat cats, paying big dollars for big names and big splashes. They were old money acting like new money. The Dodgers positioned themselves in diametric opposition, fundamentally against larding their roster with aging players, using their cash as judiciously as the filthy rich can, exploring every creative nook and cranny possible.

And thus came together the madcap 13-player, three-team trade that was agreed upon Thursday among the Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. On both sides of the return for the Dodgers, they took on unwanted salary obligations and received talent for doing so. It was a brilliant deployment of resources that landed Los Angeles a pair of starters, one who should join the rotation for years to come and another who helps strengthen it for the stretch run.

The entirety of the deal goes like this: Los Angeles received starter Alex Wood, utility prospect Jose Peraza, relievers Jim Johnson and Luis Avilan, and starter Bronson Arroyo from Atlanta, plus starterMat Latos and outfielder Michael Morse from Miami. Atlanta got Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, reliever Paco Rodriguez and prospect Zack Bird from the Dodgers, along with the Marlins’ competitive-balance draft pick, which should land somewhere in the mid-30s in the 2016 draft. For dumping the salaries of Latos and Morse, plus the draft pick, the Marlins received Class A pitchers Jeff Brigham, Kevin Guzman and Victor Araujo.

Essentially, the Dodgers bought three years of Wood, two months of Latos, a solid prospect in Peraza and a couple relief pitchers to bolster their shaky bullpen. Gone is Olivera, a 30-year-old coveted by the Braves, who couldn’t compete with the Dodgers’ six-year, $62.5 million offer he signed in May. The Dodgers will pay all $28 million of his signing bonus, and with most of his 2015 salary paid, Atlanta essentially gets him for five years at around $32 million. Considering the Dodgers are taking on some but not all of Arroyo’s remaining $7.5 million – he has a $4.5 million buyout for next season’s deal – Atlanta is paying down Olivera’s cost even more.

[Follow the latest MLB news and rumors on Yahoo Sports' trade deadline tracker]

By absorbing about $15 million from the Marlins – the struggling Morse is owed $8 million next season – Los Angeles paid more than $40 million in contracts for which it has no use. This is where money is best spent, because swallowing others’ problematic contracts or fronting money for valuable players allows the Dodgers to ask for premium talent in return, and in Wood and Peraza, it got just that.

This isn’t the first time Friedman and Zaidi pulled off such a deal. They’re also paying the salaries ofMatt KempDan Haren and Dee Gordon – all traded in the offseason – this year. In the Kemp deal, the Dodgers received All-Star catcher Yasmani Grandal. From the Marlins, they got utilityman Enrique Hernandez, catcher/second baseman Austin Barnes and pitcher Andrew Heaney, whom they flipped for Howie Kendrick.

The strategy is brilliant, a way to circumvent the artificial spending limits placed almost everywhere on young talent. Got a terrible signing? Just package it with something valuable, and the Dodgers are happy to use their money to buy talent.

And that’s what this is: The Dodgers are purchasing talent from others, using their financial advantage to stay flexible instead of boxing themselves into untradeable corners like the Yankees did for so many years. The rules were different then, not nearly as restrictive, but New York has shown no inclination to operate in a similar fashion to the Dodgers. Few teams do. The Braves, actually, pulled off a trade like this earlier in the year, taking on Arroyo’s contract and receiving pitching prospect Touki Toussaint from Arizona. For Atlanta it was novel. For the Dodgers, it’s standard operating procedure.

Which is why they stand out so much. Executives are howling about the 13-player trade, about what happens at the intersection of money and creativity. It frightens those who see how it will bear fruit, and it frightens those without the foresight but within the steamroller’s path.

It’s not just the ingenuity that makes the Dodgers so menacing. It’s the behind-the-scenes activities: the think tank filled with brilliant minds they’re cultivating and the devotion to injury prevention and neuroscouting and other branches of the development tree they’re learning about and keeping in their silo of knowledge. The scariest part of the Dodgers isn’t what we see. It’s what we don’t see.

Over nearly a decade, Friedman built the Rays into a consistent powerhouse with among the worst resources in the game. Zaidi came up through Oakland, which literally wrote the book on surviving with meager resources. Their old shops forced them to think like this, to dream up wacky conceits that might better their teams.

Marrying that to an endless spigot of money puts the Dodgers here, not just atop the NL West but stronger than they’ve been this year. They didn’t get Cole Hamels, and they didn’t get David Price, and that’s OK for now. With Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Brett Anderson and the two new guys, the Dodgers are primed to strike at San Francisco and the rest of the NL.

This is just the beginning. Though the Friedman-and-Zaidi Dodgers aren’t even a year in at this point, their goals are evident. They are going to bully all of baseball with their money, a comeuppance for the years they were the targets who had to sell, and they’ll have no qualms about it.

 http://sports.yahoo.com/news/with-money-and-cutting-edge-brilliance--dodgers-playing-a-game-others-can-t-204254221.html

 

 

“Every athlete has had articles about them that aren’t 100 percent true.”

 

Facts Only

JUL 30 2015

PHOTO BY USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES

JOSH SMITH

CONTRIBUTOR

“Did you hear how they’re twisting your words?”

One of my sisters had been trying to get a hold of me for an hour.

Huh?

I had no idea what she was talking about.

When I found out half the sports world was calling me “greedy,” I wasn’t online or anything. I don’t even have Twitter, man. I was jogging in the park with my family. You couldn’t really even call it jogging because my kids are still pretty small. It’s more like power-walking. My wife and I were trading off pushing our two-year-old son in the stroller. My six-year-old son was all about the workout. My eight-year-old daughter didn’t love it — let’s just put it that way — but she’s eight and wanted to be with her friends, so I get it. My wife and I believe it’s important for us to do outdoor activities together during summer vacation. I call it Smith family fitness time.

So my phone started blowing up. My dad called. Both my sisters called. I knew something was up. I guess I was the last person to find out that I was suddenly in the news. But like I said, I’m not on Twitter or Instagram and I barely watch sports news. I’m kind of old school like that.

Apparently the headline was: Josh Smith went to the Clippers press conference and said he didn’t make enough money? Even the idea of it is kind of ridiculous. Anyone who knows me, or knows how one-year contracts work in the NBA, understood what I was saying. This is my third team in less than a year. I was talking about how moving affects my family. But the headline about greed was the one everyone ran with.

Let’s just look at what I actually said so we don’t get it twisted. This is the quote people shared:

“It wasn’t about the money because of the Detroit situation, but at the end of the day, I do have a family, so it is going to be a little harder on me this year. But I’m going to push through it and try to do something long-term after this year.”

The whole thing about it being “harder on me” comes down to family. It seems obvious to me, but maybe I could have said it more clearly. If you know the NBA, you know that moving to a new team is a decision that affects an athlete’s whole family. That’s even more true when you’re signing a one-year deal. With a one-year deal, there’s less stability because you know you might be moving again in a year.

So I’m out there power-walking with the fam. My first response was, OK, who cares how a few people interpreted it? I know everyone on the Internet likes to be judgmental at one point or another. I try not to be too sensitive to any one thing. But it’s funny, because if you look at my whole statement, no one present at the press conference had any issue with it. Everyone seemed to know what I meant. It wasn’t until later that it took on a life of its own.

 

When I was waived from Detroit this year, it meant I had to move to Houston in the middle of the year. Like any parent, you think about how your work affects your kids. You want consistency for your kids — consistent teachers, consistent friends, a consistent home. You want some normalcy for them. I wanted to go to the Clippers (that’s a business decision), but I also wanted to be sensitive to how it affected my kids (that’s a personal one). I can tell you that the conversations this offseason between me and my wife were more about where they’d go to school than about finances.

Every athlete has had articles about them that aren’t 100 percent true. Most of the time, it’s not anyone’s fault — it’s just the reality.

Every athlete has had articles about them that aren’t 100 percent true. Most of the time, it’s not anyone’s fault — it’s just the reality. Earlier this year, everyone was making a big deal about how Detroit went on a winning streak right after I was waived. People had fun with that story. I get it. But to be honest, I wasn’t even mad. Detroit wasn’t the right fit for me at that time. I knew it, they knew it. So they waived me. I never said much in public because I was thinking,Just give me some time to prove myself. A couple months later, at playoff time, look at the damage Houston did. In the league, you just have to be patient.

I came to the Clippers to be part of an exciting team that I know I can play well for. I came to compete for a championship this year. I’m the first person to tell you how grateful I know I am. I’m grateful to have played in this league for going on 12 years — I’ll always have love for the Hawks, where I started — and to have earned a good living. I didn’t grow up wealthy, so I know how much it means to have security.

Now, I’m moving on to basketball, but thanks for reading. I don’t speak up that often, but I felt I needed to clear the air. I wish someone had just asked me for clarification before everyone immediately jumped to negative assumptions. A couple people sometimes ruin it for everyone else. I’ve got no hard feelings, but I do see why some guys are more skeptical about opening up when this type of thing happens.

There’s a little summer left still. I plan to spend it with my family. My kids go back to school next week. In the meantime, we’ll be having cookouts, playing card games, racing go-karts with my kids and just hanging out. I don’t think I’ll be signing up for Twitter any time soon (is @JSmoove taken?), but I’ll see y’all back on the court this fall. I know the Clippers are going to do some special things.

http://www.theplayerstribune.com/josh-smith-clippers/

 

“When you make choices and decisions and think that it will never end, and then you get into spending and addiction and more spending, it’s a definite formula for losing,”

 

 

 

  • ·        Ex-NBA star Vin Baker conquers demons and shoots for success in Starbucks managementBy Kevin McNamara 

Posted Jul. 27, 2015 @ 5:51 pm

NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The world’s tallest, and perhaps most famous, barista is stationed behind a busy coffee counter. His smile and easy-going style welcome customers looking for their Starbucks fix as they fastbreak to work or South County’s beaches.

“I love North Kingstown. It reminds me of my hometown, so it’s comfortable,” says the man, who stretches to 6-feet-11. “I like this community. Starbucks draws a lot of repeat customers and so many know me now.”

This is Vin Baker’s world these days. This is the same Baker who grew up in Old Saybrook, Conn., and went on to become one of New England’s all-time great collegiate basketball players at the University of Hartford. It’s the same Baker who won Olympic gold in 2000, played in four NBA All-Star Games and spent 13 years in the pros, including parts of two seasons with the Celtics.

It’s also the same Baker who battled alcoholism toward the end of his career. That addiction, plus a series of financial missteps ranging from a failed restaurant to simply too many hands dipping into his gold-plated cookie jar, combined to wipe out nearly $100 million in earnings.

Now 43, newly married and with four children, Baker is training to manage a Starbucks franchise. He thanks CEO Howard Shultz, the former Seattle SuperSonics owner, with this opportunity. He’s also a trained minister who savors work at his father’s church in Connecticut. Most important, he has been sober for more than four years.

“In this company there are opportunities for everyone. I have an excellent situation here at Starbucks and the people are wonderful,” Baker says.

Hoop fans might shake their heads and view Baker’s life as a tragic, unfortunate fall from grace. Baker doesn’t see it that way. At all. He says his story is one of redemption, of conquering demons and searching for success in this next phase of life.

“When you learn lessons in life, no matter what level you’re at financially, the important part to realize is it could happen,” he said. “I was an alcoholic, I lost a fortune. I had a great talent and lost it. For the people on the outside looking in, they’re like 'Wow.’ For me, I’m 43 and I have four kids. I have to pick up the pieces. I’m a father. I’m a minister in my father’s church. I have to take the story and show that you can bounce back. If I use my notoriety in the right way, most people will appreciate that this guy is just trying to bounce back in his life.”

Baker, who lives in Groton, would love to balance a retail management career with some basketball. He recently accepted an invitation from former teammate Jason Kidd and worked with the Milwaukee Bucks coaching staff in the Las Vegas Summer League. He’s extremely well-spoken and has counseled current, and former, athletes on the challenges they face. Few have a tale like his.

Baker was the eighth player picked in the 1993 draft after his starry career as Hartford’s all-time greatest hoopster. He signed a 10-year, $17.5-deal with the Bucks and within two years was an All-Star. He was traded to Seattle in 1997 where he signed a seven-year, $86-million deal.

More superb play followed but by the time the Sonics traded him to Boston in 2002, Baker’s star was fading. In 2004 he recorded double-doubles in 21 of his first 35 games but clashes with coach Jim O’Brien ultimately revealed issues with alcohol. Baker told the New York Daily News in 2013 that by then he was leading “a double life,” star power forward at TD Garden, a binge drinker on the side.

The Celtics suspended him three times and ultimately terminated his contract with nearly $35 million remaining. The players union filed a grievance on Baker's behalf and the two sides eventually reached a financial settlement. Quick stops with the Knicks, Rockets and Clippers followed but by 2006 Baker’s career was over.

Financial problems were Baker’s next hurdle. He lost a home in a Durham, Conn., development he was a partner in and a restaurant, Vinnie’s Saybrook Fish House, soured. In 2012 he sued his accountant, Donald S. Brodeur, for mismanagement and breach of contract. Baker said that lawsuit has “been resolved, somewhat favorably,” but makes it clear he needs to work to support his family.

“When you make choices and decisions and think that it will never end, and then you get into spending and addiction and more spending, it’s a definite formula for losing,” he said. “If you don’t have perspective in your personal life and you don’t understand what this $1 million or $15 million means, it will go.”

When he was in Las Vegas with the Bucks, he couldn’t help but talk to some players about their finances. He sees “fourth or fifth options” on some NBA teams signing players to $50-, $60-million deals these days and wonders if anyone in management is considering the challenges that await.

“I appreciate that in a lot of cases it’s more money, more problems,” he says. “I think in professional sports today teams have to deal with the personal challenges of giving young men this extraordinary amount of money. For me it was a struggle. I think when you’re giving guys who aren’t even All-Stars $80 million, there should be a framework in place where these kids can talk to someone.”

Asked what would sit atop his list of talking points, Baker said “I’d want guys to not take the money for granted. It can be here today and gone tomorrow. It can be gone from the wrong financial choices and decisions and people that you’re involved with or, in my case, gone from things that you struggle with off the court. As quickly as that contract can be signed, there are a hundred things that can also ruin it.

“I would insist that you surround yourself with the person you trust the absolute most, someone who can tell you, 'You’re wrong, don’t buy that, don’t go there, that person’s no good.’ I would also say be able to monitor every single dime that comes out of your accounts as if you’re a Starbucks barista. My check here I know exactly where my money goes. Don’t trust it with an accountant or a family friend. Make sure you’re aware and be responsible because next thing you know people are stealing from you.”

Like all recovering alcoholics, Baker says every day is both a challenge and a blessing. He now clearly has the perspective of a middle-aged man, not a fresh-faced, 22-year old newly minted millionaire who’s the life of the party. He just wants a chance to keep bouncing back.

“For me this could have ended most likely in jail or death. That’s how these stories usually end,” he says. “For me to summon the strength to walk out here and get excited about retail management at Starbucks and try to provide for my family, I feel that’s more heroic than being 6-11 with a fade-away jump shot. I get energy from waking up in the morning and, first of all, not depending on alcohol, and not being embarrassed or ashamed to know I have a family to take care of. The show’s got to go on.”

http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150727/SPORTS/150729380

 

“It’s just some consolation, is all.”

 

THE TIGERS TURNED A DAVID PRICE PROFIT

Jeff Sullivan

2We know that the Tigers aren't pleased to have wound up in this position. They've been one of baseball's most win-now organizations in recent years, and nothing about the 2015 roster construction really conveyed an impression of "building for the future!" Rather, there's been concern that the Tigers are headed for a cliff, on account of all the money they have tied up in declining players. And when that's what the future looks like, you at least hope that you can win soon. This year, the winning hasn't happened. The Tigers had to acknowledge their situation, and sell. There's no way that was an easy call for them to make.


There is a silver lining, though, one other than simply understanding that sports are frivolous entertainment and there are far more important things in the world. That's the steady and constant silver lining in the background. There's aparticular silver lining to the Tigers having dealt David Price to the Blue Jays. If the Tigers had their wish, they would've given the ball to Price in Game 1 of the ALDS. They got him for two years for a reason. But the return package the Tigers got from the Blue Jays is strong. The group, headed by Daniel Norris, instantly helps the Tigers' system, and the return seems at least equivalent to what the Tigers gave to get Price in the first place. Which was a year ago, when Price was available for two playoff runs, not one.

Put it another way: Dave Dombrowski traded for Price. Price helped the 2014 Tigers win the AL Central by one game, and then he pitched in the playoffs. Granted, the Tigers got swept, but they got to use Price for their opportunity. Then they had Price for another four months. Now he's been traded, for a strong group of young players. Even though Price himself has lost some value, given his imminent free agency, it looks like the Tigers managed to turn a profit here, overall.

To quickly review, here's what the Tigers gave up for Price, initially:

  • Drew Smyly
  • Austin Jackson
  • Willy Adames

And here's what the Tigers just got from the Blue Jays:

  • Daniel Norris
  • Jairo Labourt
  • Matt Boyd

Those might not seem equal on the surface. Smyly's a known major-league pitcher. Jackson's a known major-league outfielder. Norris and Boyd have only very limited major-league experience. So the first package is more familiar, but the second package is younger and arguably stronger. And to remind you, the Tigers got the second package after using Price, following the first. So these weren't two back-to-back swaps.

This'll be clumsy, but helpful -- let's pair off the players. We can pair Smyly with Norris, and Jackson with Boyd, leaving Adames with Labourt. You might not ever hear from either of those guys, but we'll get to them in a minute.

At the time of the first trade, Smyly looked like a league-average starting pitcher. So he had immediate value, and he had another four full years of team control remaining, albeit as a Super-Two player, meaning those would be four arbitration seasons. But while Super-Two players get paid more before free agency than other players, they're still values. Smyly was valuable, because he was a long-term asset who could help right away. That immediate value made up for his lower ceiling.

Norris isn't Smyly. Norris isn't a known anything. But he was a preseason top prospect, and he remains a top prospect today.Baseball America ranked Norris as the No. 18 prospect in its midseason updateKiley McDaniel still has good things to say. While Norris is still working on issues with his delivery, which are causing issues with his location, he has good stuff and a full repertoire, and the Tigers are putting him in the majors right away, suggesting they think he's just about ready. Norris is a huge get, at a time when teams are more protective of their top prospects than ever. It's fair to think of Norris having more value now than Smyly had a year ago. It's not by a landslide, but Norris is advanced, and he could be special.

Moving on, we have Jackson. At the time, Jackson looked something like an average everyday center fielder. Maybe a little better than that, and he was under control for another full season, after the rest of 2014. That affordable extra year gave Jackson value, even though he wasn't then what, say, Carlos Gomez is today. There were some signs Jackson's game was declining, and he didn't appear to be a defensive plus.

Boyd has little in common with Jackson. It's not a great pairing, but this helps to keep things simple. Boyd isn't a veteran, and Boyd isn't a hitter. Before this very season, Boyd was considered almost the definition of a fringe prospect, but now, in 2015,Boyd has shown much-improved velocity, and much-improved secondary stuff. So Boyd's stock is rising, and though he's still seen as a back-end type, he could help real soon, and his strike-throwing ability makes him somewhat safe. Boyd might soon be seen like Smyly would've been seen. He could be a long-term No. 3/No. 4 starter, with all his control years remaining. Though Jackson's the more valuable piece of the two, the difference isn't big.

Finally, the last pair. Adames is the forgotten part of the first Price trade, because he was so far away. But he was a legitimate prospect, a quality shortstop in Single-A, andBaseball America ranked him No. 84 overall before this season. McDaniel ranked him No. 90. It's not fair to leave Adames out of the calculation, because he was a big reason why the Rays were willing to give up their ace. Adames had, and has, a good amount of value.

Yet Labourt isn't nothing. He's a lot more than nothing! His stuff is playing up, and though he's also far away, he's young, big, talented and occasionally dominating. McDaniel likes to rate prospects based on his idea of their future value, on the 20 - 80 scouting scale. Before this season, he gave Adames a 50 rating. Labourt also just got a 50 rating. It's a "softer" 50, meaning Labourt isn't quite on the level of Adames, and being a pitcher means he comes with more risk, but again, the difference here isn't enormous. Adames is the better value by only a little bit.

So Adames seems to top Labourt, and Jackson seems to top Boyd. But Norris seems to top Smyly, the last difference probably about canceling out the first two. This is a lot of approximation, and it's far from good science, but it gets to how the players are perceived. You have to try to figure out value somehow. When you do that, it seems like the Tigers didn't lose anything, and in fact they gained a whole year of Price, including a shot in the playoffs.

This is always kind of forgotten: When a team trades for a player, in many cases, it can later trade away that player. Much of the time, the team might end up trading the player away for lesser value, but it doesn't always have to be the case. On a smaller scale, the A's traded Ben Zobrist for at least as much value as they gave up to get him. And on a bigger scale, the Tigers seem to have done the same with Price. It doesn't mean their situation is good. It doesn't mean Dombrowski is happy. It doesn't mean this is how the Tigers wanted things to go. It's just some consolation, is all. The Tigers got to enjoy Price, and in the end, they turned less of him into just as much. Sad stuff aside, it's a neat trick.

http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/just-a-bit-outside/story/detroit-tigers-david-price-trade-deadline-toronto-blue-jays-daniel-norris-073115

 

“Good framers turn pitches outside of the zone into strikes and keep pitches within the zone from being called incorrectly as balls. “

 

BASEBALL 7:00 AM JUL 30, 2015 

Buster Posey’s Pitch Framing Makes Him A Potential MVP

By ROB ARTHUR

At the top of FanGraphs’ wins above replacement leaderboard, you will find the two leading candidates for MLB’s Most Valuable Player, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. But despite his comparative lack of WAR, San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey may be just as deserving of the MVP. He possesses a secret skill that WAR doesn’t detect: He’s the league’s best pitch framer.

Posey is not an MVP candidate solely on the basis of his hitting (.325/.387/.494), even though it’s about 50 percent better than the league average.1 Trout and Harper are 89 percent and 106 percent better than average, respectively. It’s only once you begin to consider the defensive value of each player that Posey begins to look like a contender.

No current version of WAR accounts for framing, a catcher’s art of carefully receiving the pitch in such a way as to cause the umpire to call it a strike. That happens to be Posey’s most important defensive talent. Good framers turn pitches outside of the zone into strikes and keep pitches within the zone from being called incorrectly as balls. This ability, in turn, scares opposing batters into swinging at less-optimal pitches, making the impact of good framing significant. Our best estimates put a good framer as worth up to three or four wins per year.

So far this season, Posey has racked up 11.8 runs in value from his framing, more than an entire win’s worth to add to his total and putting him within a win of Trout. Catchers who consistently earn strikes where umps usually call balls are clearly good at manipulating the umpires, but there’s some mystery as to how good framers like Posey get those calls. I wanted to understand not just what Posey does when a pitch comes in, but also what he does that other catchers don’t do.

Veterans and coaches have described quality framing as being all about stillness. As an example, consider this pitch from Giants starting pitcher Chris Heston to Posey:

 

Notice how motionless Posey’s body remains, even as he absorbs the impact of the pitch. Notice also that Posey subtly drags the glove higher into the zone, perhaps making it appear to the umpire that the pitch crossed the plate higher than it did.

Posey is especially valuable to his team because his backup, Andrew Susac, is essentially a league-average framer. In just less than half the number of pitches Posey has taken, Susac has cost his pitchers a strike or so overall. In other words, he has hardly any effect. Here’s Susac receiving a similar pitch:

The pitch Posey received was called a strike, Susac’s a ball, and you can see the difference in technique. Susac tries the same maneuver as Posey, pulling his glove up into the zone, but does so in a slightly more exaggerated manner. And watch his back as he moves the pitch up — he lifts the ball by standing a bit, while Posey stays more or less at the same level.

Former journeyman MLB catcher Jason Kendall famously argued that “there’s no such thing as pitch framing,” chalking up any differences in ability to get called strikes to the catcher’s reputation. It’s difficult to disprove Kendall’s argument. Previous studies of catcher framing technique have universally relied upon anecdotes and GIFs. There is some opportunity here for confirmation bias to creep in: Because we know that Posey is a better framer, we are looking for reasons why.

But what if we found a way to quantify Posey’s greatness in terms of his actual technique? I did just that. I took 24 receptions of Posey’s and six of Susac’s,3 all to nearly the exact same location in the strike zone. These strict criteria limited the total number of catches, but removed many potentially complicating factors.4 I then wrote some code to calculate the total amount of movement in each frame for the second after each pitch was caught.5 The sample is small because I don’t yet have the ability to contrast two catchers’ framings across all the places they can receive a pitch. Still, if catchers agree that stillness is good, then Posey should grade out as more motionless than Susac.

 

Good framing isn’t as simple as a quiet catch. Both Posey and Susac dampen the momentum of the ball for about a tenth of a second. Then each pauses, as I noted in the videos above, before motion accelerates again as they toss the ball back to the pitcher.

Posey is stiller at every stage of the catch. Posey also transitions more smoothly from trapping the ball into a pause as he holds it and then from out of the pause into his return throw. Susac’s path is jagged by comparison, snatching the ball suddenly before quieting it briefly and returning to his throw. Even at his most motionless, Susac falls considerably short of Posey.

Without extending this method to all catchers,6 we can’t say yet whether stillness is the driving force behind good framing. Contrasting Posey’s pattern of motion with Susac’s suggests that Posey’s relative tranquility may help explain the extra 80 strikes Posey has stolen.

Once you factor in framing, Posey becomes a legitimate contender for the MVP. At 4.3 FanGraphs WAR, plus at least 1 win for his defensive skills, Posey is not far from Trout and Harper (6.3 and 6.0 WAR, respectively). Although his careful framing technique may go unnoticed by some, when you take it into account, Posey could be the best player in baseball right now.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/buster-poseys-pitch-framing-makes-him-a-potential-mvp/